36 Tasting Notes

90

This tea makes me happy. Despite a full Western steep of 5 minutes, the tea came out somewhat light-bodied and very fresh tasting with a soft mouth feel and nice malt tones. As it cooled a bit, an almost cocoa thing came to the fore. The second steep was certainly palatable, but fainter all around. A very nice introduction to Tea at Sea.

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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90

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75

I am usually not a big fan of African teas. Most of them are CTC and I think they are formulated too strong. This one is an exception. It’s robust, but has a soft mouth feel and tones of chicory and something flowery that I can’t quite name because I’m a bit stuffed up at the moment. Unlike many of its ilk, this one does not require milk to soften. It dries out a bit as it cools, but still goes down good.

This tea comes via Upton Tea, they of the huge selection and ancient-seeming and quirky website. Apparently they’ve gotten the message and are in the process of revamping the site. Check back around the end of this month for a new and improved version.

Flavors: Flowers, Roasted

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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83

As I understand it, mao cha is what a lot of people in China drink as day to day tea. Not the aged shengs, not the freshly compressed shous, but just basic mao cha. This tea helps me understand why. The leaves smell of steamed spinach, and the somewhat thin, slightly dry liquor has a gentle mushroom odor, but tastes more like a moderate green. It was good for several steeps in the gaiwan, but I’m sure a mugful of Western steep would go down good as a daily draft. I think I understand mao cha just a wee bit better now.

Flavors: Green, Mushrooms, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 5 OZ / 140 ML

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35

Clearly I’m missing something here. I ordered Yunnan Sourcing’s Wild Tree Purple Varietal Black Tea of Dehong Spring 2014 because of the rave reviews here and elsewhere and, well, I just don’t see it. [Note: it’s hard to tell from the listing – it’s possible that the deliciousness was last year’s version and the 2014 that I have is different.] Last night, I gave it the full gaiwan multi-steep treatment and was generally underwhelmed. I found it just a tad smoky and just a tad sweet, but generally ordinary. “OK,” thought I, “Perhaps it needs a full Western steep.” So that’s what I tried this morning, a couple of heaping teaspoons in an 8 oz cup and a full 3½ minute steep. Nope, it’s still not doing anything for me. Terri and other reputable tasters love this stuff, so maybe I’ll just put it aside for a while and try again. In the meantime, I have a lot of it, so if anyone else wants to give it a shot – to confirm or debunk my impressions – just drop me a line and I’ll send some right over.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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95
drank mei li shan by Bingley's Tea
36 tasting notes

I’ve been happily quaffing this tea since I picked it up at the Philly Coffee & Tea Fest several weeks ago. Actually, that’s not quite true. I’m slowly parceling it out because it is no longer on Bingley’s website and it is so delicious that I want to make it last. Fortunately, I can dole it out a tablespoon at a time in my gaiwan. After 30”, the color is pale straw, but this is deceptive because the flavor is robust, sweet, soft, and creamy. Another 30” gives a continuing rich brew with spinach undertones. It only starts to fade after a few more steeps. Wish I could get my mitts on more of this delightful stuff.

Flavors: Creamy, Spinach, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 5 OZ / 140 ML
Bingleys

Thank you for taking time out to write a review! So glad you liked it. Mei Li Shan is now available on the website, so feel free to sip at will, we can send more!

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90
drank 2005 Aged Oolong by Bingley's Tea
36 tasting notes

Aging has done beautiful things for this oolong. I picked this up at the Philly Coffee & Tea Fest a couple of weeks ago and I am so glad I did. This tea deserves a long, luxurious session with a gaiwan. I got eight good steeps out of it, but the leaves were still glossy and tight, so I suspect I could have had more if I’d increased the water temperature a bit. It started out almost marine (fish? seaweed?), then moved quickly into increasing sweetness with undertones of apricot but with a solid backbone. The oolong floweriness was definitely there, but clearly mellowed with time. This one has been around since 2005; it’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts. I’ll probably run out of it before it runs out of deliciousness.

Flavors: Apricot, Fishy, Seaweed, Sweet, Toasty

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Bingleys

Thanks again for writing a review. Yes, this oolong can and does do well at full boil because of it’s aged process. Continued good sipping to you! It is now available online.

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87
drank Morning Sun by Mandala Tea
36 tasting notes

This is a tale of two teas, or at least two different approaches to the same tea. As an experiment, I tried Morning Sun twice on the same day, both times following Mandala’s recommendations, but once in a gaiwan and once Western style. The dry leaves, BTW are just lovely – an attractive mix of gold and dark curls and with a smokier tang than I expected. The gaiwan version (1 tsp, 208°, rinse/1’/2’/4’) was smoky but not too much with a slight sweetness at the back. Predictably, it faded by the third steep. The Western version (~2 tsp, 208°, 3½’) was the same but more so. I found this brew richer, softer, and with the smoke perfectly balanced with the sweet undertone. When I have the leisure to do so, I usually prefer gaiwan drinking. This one is a solid mugful.

Flavors: Honey, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet

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73
drank Pouchong Oolong by DAVIDsTEA
36 tasting notes

The wet leaves are almost like a mild milk oolong and the leaves are a lovely bright green. At first, the taste has less going for it than the odor, but as it has cooled, it has taken on more distinctive oolong-ness: vegetal and also a bit fishy. It’s not knocking my socks off – the second infusion is a bit less so than the first. For this first time out, I followed David’s suggestion of 1 ¼ tsp in 8 oz at 185. I think next time I’ll try it in the gaiwan and see if that gives it more oomph.

Flavors: Fishy, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

This is one that I picked up last weekend at the Philly Coffee & Tea Expo. Per ounce, it was probably the most expensive item I got and I’m so glad I did. The dry leaves are lovely tight spirals with a delicious cocoa odor. As advertised, the flavor has all of the nutty, chocolatey notes of a good keemun, but softer. This one doesn’t hit me over the head and say, “Yo – keemun here – deal with it!” Rather, it offers warmth and comfort and relaxation. The website says they only have five left of this limited edition so I’m pleased to have this on in stock. BTW, second steep: same but less so. It’s a bit thin on the second steep. I think I’ll stick to one.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Nutty

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
boychik

my second steep was around 20-30 min because i just forgot abt it ;) it was very good. i have nothing to loose

Hillel

At that point, just drop some ice cubes in it and claim you were making iced tea all along (“that’s my story and I’m sticking to it”).

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Profile

Bio

I grew up drinking Lipton with lots of sugar and lemon. It’s only over the last few years that I’ve come to discover and appreciate real tea. Now I’m on a mission to expose as many of my friends as possible to the delights of Camellia sinensis. I dream of opening a tea shop someday where people can sit, slow down, and enjoy a proper cup properly steeped. I have so much to learn to make that happen, so I’m eager to chat, meet, and sip with those who know more than I.

I can’t say that I’ve discovered a favorite tea yet. I lean toward the bolder black teas (I don’t think I’ve tried a keemun I didn’t like), but those with lots of golden tips spark my taste buds too (Golden Monkey, dubbed “Monkey Butt” by my then-teenage son, is always popular in my house).

I love the pu-ehrs I’ve tried, but I know that that is a whole world of flavors that could take me years to explore. I keep sampling subtler white, green, and yellow teas, and I’m learning as I go. Let’s face it, I’m sampling everything I can and having a ball doing it.

Speaking of sampling, I’m eager to swap, so feel free to peruse my cupboard (I’m making a concerted effort to record what I have) and ask me for any of it.

When I’m not steeping, I write, bike, raise kids, love my wife, and cook fine vegetarian fare.

That picture is of me at a rest stop on a long bike ride. I’m still working on how to combine long-distance cycling with tea drinking. Hmmm . . .

Location

Newton, Massachusetts

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